Covid-19 Impact on Digital Pathology in the Healthcare Industry

Covid-19 Impact on Digital Pathology in the Healthcare Industry

  • Healthcare
  • Jun 22, 2020

In current clinical practices, digital pathology technology has been instrumental. In the background of the latest Coronavirus outbreak, it has become more important resource in the research laboratory ecosystems and is gaining traction recently. Although it was initially created as a cost-effective pathological method to help pathologies achieve better efficiency, digital pathology is now reemerging as a key item for pathologies to present extended workflows in the global pandemic. Including emerging technologies as artificial intelligence (AI) and machine learning, the unprecedented advantages of digital pathology integration provide incredible diagnostic possibilities far beyond traditional cardiology, and radiation. The COVID-19 crisis immediately led to a rising demand for digital pathology, and the pathology industry’s fate may forever be changed.

The fast-moving Coronavirus disease (COVID-19) of 2019 affects all of us severely. The most significant descriptions of how we live our lives are terms such as "social distancing," "self-quarantine," and "flattening the curve." Hopefully, this pandemic will soon be resolved, but its permanent effects will change the way we live and work. We are becoming increasingly used to remote and practical technologies. Although we will ultimately return to our daily activities, we will rely on these approaches for the complexities of the post-COVID-19 world in many working environments.

Digital Pathology is on show but the pathologies are still huge. The automation of laboratories is now under way. Burges in the field of imagery technologies, such as entire diaphragm imaging (WSI), software applications, LIS and LIMS (in routine workflows) in lab information and management systems and networking advances have enabled pathology digitization.

COVID-19 creates a great need for the remote working of pathologists which leads to a prolific demand for digital pathologies. The future development of digital pathology environments is further complemented by recent regulatory developments.

The digital transformation has only been embraced since the last decade by the pathology industry. Back then, the profits and productivity were benefitting just a cream layer of the industry. Now is the time when the pandemic has forced large and small pathologies to fulfill the requirement for digital tools. Only during and after the crisis will demand increase which shapes a dramatically clear future for affiliated companies.

Many health institutions' attempts to develop emerging pathology capabilities have increased. They are happy to overcome the limitations of working with microscopes and glass slides physically. The digitization schedule of hospitals is accelerating heavily from beginning to end, which again represents another major boost to the market. After all, we would never like to choose between pathologists' patient care and safety.

FOLLOWING IN THE MIDST OF THE CRISIS

Late in March 2020, pathologist requirements for complex and time-consuming validation requirements set out in the Clinical Laboratory Improvement Amendment to read cases at home, the Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services (CMSA) were temporarily waived. This fundamental change makes pathologists work virtually much more practical. This also poses a significant question: is pathology remote research to remain?

Pathology ecosystems have always been facing challenges thrown by scarce resources, creating pressure to consistently deliver quality patient care. To add to this trying situation, the pandemic has generated an influx of cases to be handled – with a quicker turnaround. This in turn has pushed pathologies to scale back on non-emergency or elective procedures. However, initial detection and diagnosis of several chronic diseases, including cancers, cannot be compromised on even in this crisis.

During their daily workflows, pathologies have been shown to pose considerable hazards for transmission, and like most other vertical industries, home-based pathology personnel would prevent delays for an equally important critical treatment.

Recently, the FDA waiver of remote pathology operations restrictions has been exempted. Philips immediately took steps to flatten the curve with its IntelliSite Pathology Solution. A range of Digital Pathology tools is also provided by several other companies.

IMPACT AND STRATEGY

In pathology, we are now starting to see the beginnings of such irreversible shifts, as social distancing and quarantine have made it almost overnight that pathology works. Laboratory workers usually use validated methods to interpret patient biopsies attached to glass slides under a microscope over the last 150 years. This regular clinical practice has been completely interrupted along with appointments and tumor boards, and now the patients will have to wait longer to be treated and care for diseases such as cancer.

Digital Pathology, which records high-resolution tissue specimen images, was essential for the preservation of surgeries by pathologists during the pandemic. Such visual images can be viewed whenever possible and are easily exchanged in secondary opinions and views, or online, by overcoming the limitations of working with glass dispositive and microscopes.

The growing need for remote operations strongly drives this market for digital pathology. Importantly, a key regulatory development is also being accelerated. The demand for digital pathology has thus risen from both commercial and academic laboratories. Health centers have adopted the technology to promote joint training sessions and access to expertise. Many medical schools have already migrated online and now deliver a similar, if not the same, experience as students in the classroom.

For Instance,

  • Indica Labs, one of the leading software providers in electronic pathology and a first-ever supplier in information systems in the U.S. A virtual array of high resolution COVID-19 related images of human tissues in high resolution stored in the National Institutes of Health is being announced by the Federal Government, on the COVID Digital Pathogen Repository (COVID-DPR).

While there are still a growing global number of COVID-19 deaths, few institutions have viral containment facilities for autopsy and tissue collection in patients who die of the disease. The tissue is critical for researchers who study COVID-19 treatment, pathology and prevention. COVID-DPR, a centralized cloud-based repository for the sharing and annotation of digital entire pan-slide image data on liver, kidney, lung and heart tissues from COVID-19 infected patients and near association with Coronavirus related to MERs and SARs, was created to enable international collaboration. All the slide images, annotations and the metadata in repository would be used for reference data set for research, education and future clinical trials which are aimed at limiting the further infection, disease, and death.

And yet the world has also found its own means of staying working and productive in this difficult time, even amidst extensively locked Coronavirus and with global authorities fully occupied in providing medical supplies for infection treatment. Pathology is no different, as pathologists and laboratory personnel have responded instinctively to safeguard pathologists and to provide their communities with critical services.

Many companies in digital pathology now offer a broad range of devices for remote dialing or image sharing, as vendor sponsors cover the general spectrum of what's available here on Tissue Pathology. However, because COVID-19 has greatly accelerated the digitization times in many hospitals, some organizations can only now seriously consider digital resources. The choices can be daunting and so you can search the options available by assembling a list of the principal kinds of digital resources.

Digital Scanned Slides – It appears that the most obvious solution to the term "digital workflow" is that for second opinions, education and training, digital slides can be scanned and exchanged online, and sign-outs may be made for systems approved by the FDA.

Cloud Consulting Platforms – Cloud technologies can be used to cross the physical gap between sites to start work, whether humanitarian or otherwise. One notable success story is the ASCP Partner in Cancer Diagnostics Program.

Live Image Scanners – Some scanning systems can also turn into robotic microscopes that can be remotely, in real time monitored and operated, so that the scan does not have to be done. These systems enable the disease to retain complete control of the sample and focus it on and may especially be useful for rapid assessments or where the sample is thick or uneven.

Microscopy Video – The easiest digital instrument: mount a camera on a microscope to stream the pathologist’s image via video chat. In the field of pathologist control, a trainee expert (a fellow cytotechnician, resident or senior cytotechnician) is required.

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